|AVs have barely shown themselves in the US this year / Photo Credit: TZIDO SUN (via Shutterstock)|
AVs have barely shown themselves in the US this year, while other countries like China are now taking the lead, noted Jeff McMahon of business news website Forbes. Jerry Quandt, executive director of the Illinois Autonomous Vehicle Associatio, explained, “Even the manufacturers have taken a much more careful view of it, a much more calculated view in the United States.” In China, there are cities where 20% of the vehicles on the road are autonomous. Even if the US is leading in terms of the average number of miles traveled with human intervention, China is said to dominate the industry due to strong support from the central government.
However, the growth of the AV industry in the US is slower, according to experts who gathered at the Smart Cities International Symposium in Chicago last week. McMahon also spoke with Lauren Isaac, who now works for EasyMile, a Denver-based AV tech firm. Isaac said Level 4 is much more achievable compared to a Level 5 driverless vehicle. With a Level 5, there are countless use cases that need to be addressed and there are also exceptions to consider before Level 5 vehicles become a reality.
When unpredictable use cases cause the death of an individual in an AV, the Western press—with news values that highlight the “newness of the technology”—covers the incident more dramatically compared to the over 36,000 deaths that occur in human-piloted automobiles each year. Quandt reasoned, “I definitely think the world of public opinion right now, which is driven by media sensationalism, is absolutely another slowdown contributor.” Additionally, AVs are expected to address nearly all traffic accidents and fatalities. However, a number of US industries— like law firms, insurance firms, and repair firms— rely on these incidences for profit.
AV developers would benefit from a single policy, but it’s a different story for the US since motor-vehicle policy is formulated by 50 states. Quandt said state law is one obstacle. “Because you can’t create a singular solution, every state would have to ratify that policy,” he added. There’s also less centralized control of tech development in the country, which will be advantageous in the long run since nobody is dictating from the top down. For Quandt, it’s better because “the more minds you put to a problem the better end-solution it is.”